NAIA  PASSES  SECURITY  AUDIT

MANILA, 
June 10, 2004  (STAR) By Sandy Araneta  -  The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has passed a security audit conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency tasked by the US government to conduct security assessment of airports worldwide.

The TSA, an agency under the US homeland security department, inspects airports to assess the safety of ports being used by all American airlines.

A highly-reliable source said that a TSA representative is scheduled to arrive to formally announce that the country’s premier airport, managed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), has been given the "green light," or that it has passed all the standards set by the American aviation authority.

This means that no "travel advisory" will be issued against the Philippines.

A "travel advisory" would have resulted in American-owned airlines with flights to the Philippines printing "travel at your on risk" on tickets.

Another possible consequence is that American-owned airlines may have to cancel all flights to the Philippines and airlines originating from the Philippines to the US may also be cancelled.

The source said that a few days before the general elections, the TSA conducted a debriefing with officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

"The TSA results showed that the audit was successful. The exit debriefing was successful. We were given an all green assessment," the MIAA source said.

He said that last December, NAIA was not able to meet the standards of the TSA and that they were given a 90-day notice to improve the situation.

The NAIA reportedly failedto get a passing mark because it had no "National Civil Aviation Security Program."

The TSA also said there was "no single authority" for NAIA security.

Remedies

In an interview with the press the other night at the NAIA, Gen. Angel Atutubo, assistant general manager for security and emergency services, said the government had created last February the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), an agency under the DOTC, to centralize under one authority all aviation security measures to comply with the TSA as well as all other standards of aviation authorities worldwide.

Atutubo said President Arroyo had signed an executive order creating such an office under the DOTC for that purpose.

The National Civil Aviation Security Program was also created to comply with the aviation authority’s standards. This was an upgrade of the MIAA’s old Airport Security Program.

Atutubo said that in the old set-up, several organizations were involved in the security of NAIA, as well as other airports in the country, handled by different government offices.

The Airport Police Department (APD) is under the MIAA. The MIAA, on the other hand, is under the DOTC. A separate agency, the Philippine National Police (PNP), is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Another separate agency, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is under the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is under the Department of Finance (DOF), while the Bureau of Immigration is also under the DOJ.

All these agencies have their own security measures for NAIA.

The OTS aims to centralize all government agencies handling related security of the airports nationwide.

Among the data included in the National Civil Aviation Security Program are the Auditor’s Guidelines to provide standards and recommended practices to contracting states with a view to maintaining acceptable uniform levels of security in all contracting states.

The security program of the OTS was created to meet the standards of another aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a group based in Montreal, Canada.

An ICAO team composed of four auditors arrived in Manila last June 7 to conduct a similar security audit, this time on ICAO standards, under the ICAO Universal Security Audit Programme.

The team is composed of Canadians Joseph Gastonguay, aviation security audit team leader; John Getty, certified aviation security auditor; Korean national Kwang Eui Yoom, certified aviation security auditor; and Hong Kong national Matthew Ip, also a certified aviation security auditor.

The ICAO is a global organization with its head office located in Canada. It conducts security audits similar to those of the TSA.

The team in Manila will be conducting a security audit from June 7 to 17. The visitors are holding office at the Command Center of the MIAA located at the NAIA Terminal 1 building.

They are currently visiting airports, both domestic and international, in 189 countries worldwide.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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